During the week after Easter, my family and I went to visit friends in a small Bavarian village in a region known as Upper Franconia. The village has a fascinating history; our friend’s family lives in a modest castle built several hundred years ago, and there are wonderful historical tidbits around every corner, including a gigantic cellar hewn into solid rock for the purpose of storing locally brewed beer. I’ve been visiting the village now for a couple of years, and every visit is tons of fun.
This time I finally remembered to bring my climbing shoes, and I headed out to the boulders in the woods. I remembered the day before to pick up a couple of brushes at the local hardware store, which came in very handy for removing moss and pine needles and such.
I’ve never really understood the appeal of bouldering until now. The woods were completely quiet except for the occasional drone of a woodpecker, and the sun filtered through the pine canopy in long amber slivers. I spent three hours on these two rocks:
It was great fun just trying to see if I could do this or that move, working on trusting my feet, and resting in the sun in between. It was also calming to be alone and to know that no one was watching me experiment; it gave me a sense of freedom and focus. I can understand now – well, at least at the most basic level – why people like Reinhold Messner and Steve House do their solo projects. It’s completely liberating.